If you own a company that rents out equipment, you know that there can be risks. Renters may not abide by the agreement, take equipment out of agreed-upon zones, leave it vulnerable to thieves, or steal it themselves.
The National Equipment Registry reports that theft is worsening, with approximately 1,000 pieces of commercial equipment being reported stolen every month (costing business owners anywhere from #300 million to $1 billion annually). With a recovery rate of less than 20%, the odds of getting your equipment back are not in your favor. Fortunately, this is all changing with GPS tracking for rental equipment.
What is a GPS Tracking Device for Rental Equipment?
Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) systems have been around since the 1960s—but back then, it was available exclusively for military use. In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan signed an executive order to make it free for public use, and since then, GPS systems have evolved from tracking friendly and criminal activity by the military to personal protective devices for assets at the touch of a button.
GPS systems are able to locate your assets using a pre-installed transmitter that triangulates the location of the specific object using signals from several satellites and calculating the delay between each one. Today, GPS tracking is being used on expensive equipment across various industries. You can find the GPS device attached to:
- Heavy equipment for construction
- Refrigerated trucks and trailers
- Portable generators
- Stationary trash compactors
- Medical equipment
Installation of GPS Tracking from Rental Equipment
GPS devices should be installed in the assets you want to track by a reputable company with a history of operational excellence in the tracking process. Your GPS service of choice should provide you with a range of services such as location tracking, software with easy configuration, and remote diagnostics (for powered assets like generators, vehicles or refrigerated trailers). These services help ensure that your assets are protected and working correctly and that the information is available in real time.
Modern tracking solutions let you receive GPS tracking information through mobile devices like cell phones and tablets via text or applications created specifically for live tracking. You can also get stand-alone services where you can purchase specialized software and choose how you want to access the tracking services. Web-based tracking services often require a log-in to access updates and the position data of your vehicles or assets.
Types of GPS Tracking for Rental Equipment
PS asset tracking systems make it incredibly simple to know exactly where your assets are at all times. Whether you need small tool GPS tracking for frequently-misplaced objects or vehicle and equipment tracking systems for larger assets, there is a GPS equipment tracker suitable for your needs.
For example, the TTU-700 GPS tracking device for equipment is ideal for keeping track of larger assets with up to seven years of battery life and magnetic mounting options (helping you easily mount the tracker where it will be unobtrusive). The long battery life and mounting options make this GPS tracking device indispensable for tracking rental equipment in a large lot so it can be located quickly and efficiently when needed.
Meanwhile, the GL300VC is a thumb-sized unit that can be easily mounted on small rental assets to provide accurate location tracking (with a three-axis accelerometer to provide instant motion detection alerts).
Six Benefits of GPS Tracking for Rental Equipment
Lending your assets to others is as risky as it is profitable. Many heavy equipment assets are valuable and difficult to replace. With Rastrac GPS tracking services for heavy machinery, trailers, and other high-value assets, you can keep an eye on your assets’ whereabouts at any time. You can also set up geofencing: invisible, virtual “fences” that send an alert when the asset leaves the set perimeter. This information is crucial in preventing contract breaches and ensuring that equipment is exactly where it needs to be. Additionally, if your asset is in any danger, some GPS tracking solutions allow you to disable starters to keep thieves from turning them on. You can stop your car, truck or construction vehicle from starting up until the police arrive at the scene to take care of the situation.
2. Monitor Equipment Condition
GPS tracking has significantly impacted maintenance management by leveraging its automated process to monitor services fleetwide. The main aspect of GPS tracking that helps equipment rental companies keep up with maintenance is the ability to monitor run time. GPS tracking will allow you to schedule maintenance based on the equipment’s runtime. This will help ensure that maintenance is done on time and allow you to plan for downtime so that productivity is not lost.
3. Preventing Theft / Relocating Stolen Equipment
Some people – let’s call them what they are: criminals – rent equipment without the intention to return it. The rental equipment will typically be for a few days and paid for in cash or with a fraudulent credit card. When the equipment isn’t returned, and the rental company comes to collect, the site will be vacant, or they will discover no such address or person even exists!
The benefits of having an exact location for your rental assets when it comes to helping authorities catch the thieves are clear. However, the right rental equipment tracking devices can do more than aid in locating a lost or stolen rental asset—it can help you minimize the risk of damage to the asset if it is stolen by minimizing the time that thieves have it.
For example, if you use a GPS tracking device for equipment that features geofencing or motion detection capabilities, it will instantly generate an alert if it crosses the geofencing boundary or is moved “after hours.” You can use this alert to quickly identify a potential theft in progress and alert the authorities to the theft. This minimizes the time it takes for authorities to find and catch the thieves—reducing the likelihood that the asset will be damaged or disposed of before authorities can find it.
4. Preventing Unauthorized Usage/Contract Enforcement
One of the major worries with renting equipment assets—particularly heavy equipment such as construction equipment or generators—is that the renter may try to use the equipment in a manner not approved of in the rental agreement. For example, they could use the equipment during off-hours, move it out of the agreed-upon geography, or neglect basic maintenance requirements.
These unauthorized usage activities place extra risks on the equipment—increasing the chances of equipment theft or failure. And, without GPS asset tracking, they can be difficult to prove. However, with rental equipment GPS tracking systems, it is possible to get live updates on the status of your rental assets—as well as maintain an inventory tracking spreadsheet with vital data that can be used to identify if unauthorized usage of equipment occurs.
For example, GPS tracking systems with diagnostics capabilities can help you track information such as equipment activation times, engine statistics, and asset locations so you know whether the renter is abiding by the terms of the rental agreement. If the renter is using the asset in an unauthorized manner, then you can use the recorded tracking device data to prove it and confront the renter so they have an opportunity to change their behavior.
5. Improving Data and Reporting
Even if renters aren’t using their rented equipment unauthorized, the data collection capabilities of GPS rental equipment tracking devices can still be invaluable. With this data, you can easily optimize your asset maintenance scheduling as your equipment nears specific maintenance milestones. This helps to minimize overall maintenance costs by helping you focus on preventative maintenance rather than costlier emergency maintenance—which also helps improve ROI by minimizing costs.
With GPS rental equipment tracking devices, you also can track when specific assets are accessed remotely with startup/motion alerts that let you get detailed information about how certain assets are being used.
6. Increasing Invoice Accuracy and Billable Time
Monitoring run time offers another benefit to using GPS tracking on your equipment: increasing your invoice accuracy and billable time. If you bill customers based on the runtime of the vehicle and/or equipment, then knowing the exact amount of runtime will increase your invoicing accuracy.
Monitoring runtime will eliminate the need to bill by day, half day, hour, or by going off the odometer reading when the equipment arrives back at your yard. GPS tracking will automate this very manual process of keeping track of the meter by hand.
GPS Units with Starter Interrupt Devices
Vehicles and assets acquired on loan are increasingly being equipped with equipment tracker GPS units with starter interrupt devices, which allow the lender to remotely shut off the asset’s starter, locate the vehicle with GPS, and recover their property. Prior to the development of this technology, owners often had to spend considerable time and money to repossess a loaned vehicle or asset when borrowers defaulted on a loan. Non-payers could continue to use the vehicle until the owner successfully removed it from their possession, sometimes for weeks or even months.
Benefits of GPS Starter Interrupt Devices
GPS equipment tracking units with a starter interrupt device have many features that help owners know where the vehicle is and what events are happening to the vehicle. These features include:
GPS units often frustrate customers who are unable or unwilling to comply with the loan terms. Removing the GPS unit may appear to be a viable option for these cheats; they may think it will remove the navigation ability and the starter disable the feature, so the vehicle or equipment will remain functional and its location unknown.
Tamper alerts notify the owner immediately when a GPS has been meddled with or removed. GPS units with tamper alerts have a backup battery and will continue to track even after they are removed from the vehicle. This data lets the owner know that their loan vehicle is at risk and gives them an opportunity to contact the borrower.
GPS trackers can locate vehicles in real-time. And, with address verification features often included with GPS starter disable systems, additional information is available that can help pinpoint a borrower's location.
Address verification history reports help an owner skip-trace a borrower’s location. Not only is the borrower’s home and work addresses verified, but the tracker also identifies all locations where the vehicle is parked for more than four hours. Some address verification filters can arrange all stops within a 90-day period, identifying the stop's date and duration.
The more owners can keep tabs on their loaned vehicles, the more pitfalls they can avoid when a customer does default on a loan.
Lower Financial Risk
When people know rental tracking is in place and the equipment or vehicle can be disabled remotely at any time, the likelihood of timely payments is increased and the number of defaults resulting in repossession is reduced (if a repo is necessary, GPS will simplify and streamline repossession procedures).
There are many situations when remote disabling systems are of vital importance to rental fleet management. In fleets, equipment tracking GPS' disabling systems are often integrated with other systems, such as door sensors, temperature sensors, cargo sensors, and trailer connection systems. Disabling features can also be initiated by dangerous changes in vehicle system status, such as engine oil pressure or coolant temperature.
Remote vehicle disabling systems allow fleet managers to stop a vehicle from starting or moving. Once the vehicle is stopped, systems may automatically lock the vehicle’s brakes or prevent the engine from being started.
Certain circumstances warrant the option of stopping a vehicle before it can be started. It has made many a loan defaulter unhappy and saved those who loan vehicles hundreds of dollars in potential recovery costs. Applications of equipment tracking GPS' starter disable systems are broadening, and vehicle control and security keep improving.
How GPS Tracking Mitigates Unauthorized Usage for a Texas Rental Company
Thermal Trek, Inc. in Austin, Texas, is a refrigerated rental firm that rents out refrigerated trailers and containers for storing frozen or fresh temperature-sensitive products. The Operations Manager, Wayne Francis, has been using Rastrac’s fleet management software and tracking devices for the rental business for several years. The GPS tracking solution has come in handy multiple times when clients tried to lie about transporting his company’s rental equipment to another state.
Francis, who regularly uses Rastrac’s geofencing tool, says:
“This system gives us the ability to make better decisions about what a rental person is telling us, and we also have documented proof through the reporting to show somebody if they don’t believe us. It really corrects untruthfulness in the rental business. There’s almost nothing a customer can lie about and us not catch them.”
According to Francis, he uses the equipment tracking devices and equipment rental software primarily to retrieve information and actionable data about the operating condition of the assets and their locations, and not necessarily for preventative maintenance (although the devices can track that as well).
The Future of Equipment Rental Management
Rental GPS tracking is quickly becoming an absolute necessity for businesses that rent out equipment. “...End users will be able to quickly identify and locate specific assets, track their utilization, monitor meter hours or odometer, and monitor engine performance and fuel in full digital engines,” says Greg Nierenberg, former VP of Asset Management at Hertz Equipment Rental Corp. "Telematics has come a long way from simple GPS location and a dot on a map. It now allows fleet owners and customers to have real-time insight into how their assets work, to work smarter, not harder.
With Rastrac, a huge benefit to having this GPS data as an equipment rental company is the ability to protect and control the maintenance of your valuable and expensive equipment. You’ll know what’s wrong with your equipment before you send your technicians out for repair, saving valuable time and money. Plus, you’ll always know your equipment's hour meter or odometer for maintenance to be scheduled on time. These systems work together to reduce downtime and costly repairs, even sending real-time alerts right to your phone.
"The return on investment for telematics almost always is favorable in any circumstance, too. The big benefits for rental companies are location, security, fleet analytics, scheduling maintenance and machine health,” continues Nierenberg. “These benefits… can really help a rental company operate leaner and increase customer loyalty."